PARIS (Dispatches) - Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita says the removal from power of the country’s interim president and vice president in recent days was the right move, alleging that the now detained leaders intended to sabotage the transition process with an uncalled for decision to reshuffle the cabinet.
Transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane – tasked with steering Mali to civilian rule nearly 10 months after a Goita-led coup -- were taken into custody at a military base outside the capital Bamako on Monday evening, sparking an immediate reaction by former colonial power France.
French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the move as a “coup within a coup” and threatened to impose sanctions.
Former junta leader Goita, who was lately serving as interim vice president, justified the arrest of the interim leaders and seizure of power by claiming that the two had failed to consult him about a government reshuffle in which two former coup leaders lost their cabinet positions.
In a statement read on public television, Goita said Ndaw and Ouane had been stripped of their duties for seeking to “sabotage” the transition, which would “proceed as normal.”
France, which continues to hold major political and military influence over Mali, joined the U.S., the European Union as well as the United Nations, African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to condemn the detentions and demanded their immediate release.